Yankees icon Mariano Rivera has hilarious take on pitching in World Baseball Classic

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The first World Baseball Classic since 2017 begins this week, and even if you didn't stay up to watch The Netherlands and Cuba face off at 11:00 PM EST on Tuesday (any takers?), there's plenty of electric competition on the way for you to consume.

The tournament was first played back in 2006, when Team Japan captured the title led by a 26-year-old Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was still a few years away from being a Red Sox ... title-winning semi-bust? What exactly was he?

It was all happening back in '06 for the Yankees in the WBC. Bernie Williams was in the outfield for Team Puerto Rico. Derek Jeter was Captain America long before David Wright, alongside Roger Clemens and Al Leiter on Team USA. And Mariano Rivera was hurling his trademark cutters for Team Panam--huh. Wait. Actually, Rivera didn't suit up for his home country, probably preferring to preserve bullets for his later years with the Yankees (worth it, thanks for '09).

This time around, Panama is back in the mix, though they've been forced to head overseas to Pool A to battle with the likes of Cuba and Chinese Taipei over in Taiwan. Rivera joined the team for an introductory press conference on Tuesday, but just as quickly as he came, he managed to dash their hopes.

No, a 53-year-old Rivera won't be making his WBC debut. He hopes you understand.

"Mariano Rivera spoke at a press conference in Taiwan for the WBC and was told some of the Team Panama players thought he might suit up for them. Mariano, now 53, responded: 'No, everything hurts right now.' He was human after all."

Sweeny Murti

Yankees legend Mariano Rivera's body hurts too much to pitch at age 53 in World Baseball Classic

A 53-year-old Rivera slinging cutters at Yoenis Cespedes? Now, that would've been a solid reason for Yankees fans to stay up and catch these late-night contests. Alas, the only unanimous Hall of Famer is more than fine keeping his cleats on the shelf at this point. Not gonna happen.

Don't think the pitch clock would do him any favors, either.

Now, we just have to hope for a contentious pregame BP session between Rivera and Team Italy manager Mike Piazza, who's also over there in Pool A. Maybe one last cutter saws off his bat? Maybe 2006 Team USA legend Roger Clemens picks up the bat shard? Maybe we see what happens next?

Just spitballing here if you're still looking to grow the game, MLB.